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In the comments to my recent WIW post, I mentioned it might be a good idea to start a more global post about dressing for the heat.
A little background on me and summer dressing: it's my favorite season to shop for. I live in a four season climate with hot and humid summers, and it's NYC, so there are special challenges like overheated subway platforms. My office runs cold, but less than it used to so I'm not as reliant on indoor toppers this summer, but I do have them because I've needed them in the past. I run cold but am also sensitive to heat.
Earlier this year I'd deemed my summer wardrobe much too large because I was shopping for a fantasy beachgoing life.. I have managed to purge, but it's still relatively large compared to my winter wardrobe. I've realized this is because I need more clothes in the summer - because I wash my clothes more, especially the casual clothes. I only have a/c in one room of my apartment, and it's not the one with a TV (though we can watch TV on the computer, we can't play video games or cook in the bedroom!) Also, the clothes are more fragile and fabrics more prone to be ruined by being shrunk in the wash (more on fabric below). So here's what I've been doing to dress in a cool by stylish way, and I hope others will share tips too.
1. I'm purging anything in a non-breathable fabric from my summer wardrobe. Bye bye poly. I'm also careful not to buy any of those lovely cotton-linen blend items in stores that have poly lining. WHY??? Rayon and viscose can be challenging to launder, and I pretty much wash most of my summer clothes in cold water and hang dry because of that. If I need to buy those fabrics, I try to buy nicer versions. I buy linen or a cotton/linen blend when I can and am at peace with the crease of linen. (NB: I don't wear athletic clothes casually, but the wicking fabrics will probably also work for people who don't mind doing so.)
2. Dresses obviously rule for work. I also like skirts--mindful that they can be orphans, and that I like fun patterned skirts but not pattern mixing, I have a variety of solid tops I can pair with them. Tops that can be knotted at the bottom have been the most flattering, and that adds visual interest (they also help with styling the crop flares that cause problems for people).
3. Jeans take a backseat, even though they form the core of my wardrobe the rest of the time. It's too humid. Even at night, I may have to use the subway, and the worst subway stations don't cool off or become less humid at night. Therefore, for when I do want pants, I keep a selection in breathable fabrics.
4. For casual wear, I am wearing linen dresses (often loose), linen or cotton blend shorts and pants, and rompers. YES, rompers. I am almost 40 years old and not a size 2; I don't care. They're easy for throwing on and for walking outside, the shorts aspect of them means less thigh rubbing. They are hard to fit and since mine are for casual or around the house wear, I don't bother having the tops tailored. Rompers won't be to everyone's taste - light shorts and a top will do just as well.
5. Cute sandals that I can walk in are key. I hate having my feet covered up in the summer. Metallics are especially key to my style; they look sophisticated if you favor neutrals but also look great with lots of colors, which is what I favor. As of this year, I also like to have a rainbow of color options too. Since I favor patterns, it means that any number of my shoes might go with a certain item.
Bonus - I can't say enough about Boden dresses. They are in nice fabrics for summer, and are well made so they stand up better than other garments I've had. (Mostly from Loft, to be honest.)
Finally, I will add that I sacrifice style for comfort when I need to, but I do try not to. Anyone else have tips to share?ETA - I've collected the recurring tips as takeaways in the comments below.